"Watchin' Yo-Yo Girl Cop."
"Is that a porn?"
-text conversation between me and my wife
I've had some piss poor luck with low-budget Japanese action movies lately. After Cutie Honey, I wanted more cute girls using weird weapons to fight goofy bad guys. I thought I'd found a worthy follow-up in Onechanbara: Samurai Bikini Squad, the plot of which, put simply, concerns a young girl, clad only in a bikini and a cowboy hat, slaughtering zombies with a samurai sword. I don't care who you are, on paper, that's a winner. I got through roughly five minutes before I shut it off. I can tolerate a low budget, but this budget was lower than I'm willing to go. Plus, the filmmakers opted to use CGI blood, and there is nothing worse than CGI blood (see the 2008 version of Rambo for confirmation). And, not for nothing, but one bikini-clad samurai girl does not a squad make. A more accurate, though by no means better, title might be Samurai Bikini, Shotgun Motorcycle, Morbidly Obese Japanese Steve Harwell From Smash Mouth Impersonator Squad. Rough stuff, man. Rough stuff.
Next, I tried a film titled Lady Ninja Kasumi: Vol. 1. It was soft-core pornography. I watched the sex scenes then returned it to its Netflix envelope.
So, I went into Yo-Yo Girl Cop with some trepidation. Would I encounter another low-budget snore digitally dripping with fakey pixel blood? Would it be packed with campy fun, kick-ass karate fights and random acts of fan service, like Cutie Honey, or stomach-churning gore and fast-paced, over-the-top butt-kicking, like The Machine Girl? Or would it be soft-core porn, the worst porn for something that turns out to be porn to be?
Yo-Yo Girl Cop, mercifully, fell more into the Cutie Honey camp. It wasn't as goofy, though Riki Takeuchi's hair is consistently ridiculous; or as fun, as there are long stretches in the middle where nothing much seems to happen, and when something approaching action appears to be on the immediate horizon, it is snuffed out immediately with a well-timed pipe to the noggin; but it had some good fights, a few involving the latest in yo-yo technology, and the plot contained a last minute twist that I particularly enjoyed. And, hey, it wasn't porn.
Rogue Yo-Yo Girl Cop, Reika Akiyama. Everything you do pisses her off
Like a lot of Japanese movies I've watched, Yo-Yo Girl Cop is super into teenage suicide. In fact, the Enola Gay terrorist organization, run by the mysterious, sometimes-undercover-janitor Romeo, seems, on the surface anyway, to be all about convincing teenagers to strap homemade bombs to themselves and blow themselves up. This ends up being a cover for an epic bank robbery (the twist I mentioned earlier, a twist that actually turned me around on this movie), but it is made pretty clear during his final battle with Saki that Romeo loves blowin' up teens.
And that's pretty much it really. I mean, there isn't a whole helluva lot to Yo-Yo Girl Cop. A weird terrorist and his gang of what appear to be bored dads looking to kill some time on the weekends, use the inherent insecurity and love of Web sites present in the teenage species to organize a mass suicide at an anti-bullying assembly that will keep the police busy while they rob a bank. An angry girl with nothing to lose takes on said terrorist group using the martial arts skills she was, I guess, born with, and a yo-yo. There you go. If that sounds interesting to you, watch Yo-Yo Girl Cop. If not, I don't know, don't watch it.
I'll say the same thing about Yo-Yo Girl Cop that I did to my father after seeing The Wolverine: "Man, it's a good thing everyone in Japan knows kung fu." And, yes, I know kung fu is a Chinese martial art. Put down the hate pens you use to write your hate letters, everybody.
All I'm saying is that Saki is recruited by Organization K on her mother's reputation. Saki's mother was an expert fighter and a whiz with a killer yo-yo. There's no evidence to suggest that Saki possesses these same skills, skills, I believe, people train for years to develop, until she suddenly starts kicking everybody's ass in home room one day. Not to mention her skills with a yo-yo. I mean, sure, the first time she breaks out the yo-yo, she smashes herself in the skull, but after that, she's pitch perfect. We never see her train, in fact, she is thrust undercover at Shingen Academy the day after she is returned to Japan by the American government. No one explains how the yo-yo works, she just seems to know.
"Well, Matt, they can't show everything. That would make the movie long and tedious, and people who rent movies called Yo-Yo Girl Cop are looking for action, nothing more." Maybe, but there are enough slow, boring moments in the middle of this thing, that a few training montages would not hurt.
Also, I found it amusing that no one ever thought a yo-yo was a strange weapon for a cop to be using. Like, no one was phased ever. The bad guys seemed to think it was perfectly reasonable that they were being attacked by a girl with a yo-yo. They had machine guns and hand cannons, and the 5'2" school girl they were firing bullets at had a yo-yo. In his final fight with Saki, Romeo uses a samurai sword. They are literally having a sword/yo-yo fight! And, guess what? He cuts the string, rendering the yo-yo useless. Well, not entirely. And Saki herself, when presented with the yo-yo, isn't all like, "Oh, no! If I'm an undercover cop, you're gonna give a gun. I'm looking for terrorists, and you're giving me a Duncan with which to defend myself? Oh, hell no!" She just shrugs.
So, next on my Netflix queue is something called Yo-Yo Sexy Girl Cop. There's no way that's porn, right? Right?